A couple of weeks ago, a few guildmates mentioned the idea of going for a Dungeon Walk- of going into a dungeon in Elder Scrolls Online, switch our characters to walking speed and enjoy the sights there are to see. There was quite a huge response, so when the time finally came, we were able to form two dungeon groups. Our group chose to walk into Direfrost Keep.
It’s hot in europe right now (slightly below 100°F), so we chose that dungeon to cool off virtually, if not in reality. AC are not (yet) very common in germany, so when there are like 3 weeks of temperatures in the mid 30 degree celsius range, the flats and houses will get warm. Very warm. A guildmate told us that he had 95°F- in his flat. Of course, walking into an icy dungeon doesn’t really help, but it was nice seeing snow and ice, anyway.
In World of Warcraft, i’ve finally made my way through the Deadmines. It was the one dungeon i simply had to do for nostalgia’s sake, so i put my Discipline Priestess on hold at level 21 to be able to run it.
Although i knew that most early WoW dungeons are 20-30 minute-affairs nowadays, it took me some time to gather the courage to go at it as a healer- normally, i love the support or hybrid role, ideally doing damage by default and helping out with heals/off-tanking if the group is in trouble.
That’s why up until today, the vanilla WoW Druid below level 30 or so is my favorite class i’ve ever played- because the Druid could do it all. Of course, even in early WoW, at some point you had to decide what kind of Druid you wanted to be and the group expected you to hold your role instead of being cat-elf-bear-cat during one run.
The upside? This way, there’s almost no possibility of messing up- instead, you help your teammates if they’re in it over their heads. As a healer, though, i had responsibility and actually, the only way to go was to mess up. Nobody’s going to tell you what a great healer you’ve been if everyone survives- but if one group member goes down, guess what?
We’ve finished Rkindaleft tonight. All in all it was a nice, if not very challenging, experience. But i have to say- i love public dungeons. The whole experience reminded me a lot of public dungeons in Everquest 2, a part of that game i really like. Granted, you won’t get lost in there- its design is too linear for that- but it’s big, it took us about 90 minutes to finish, it’s beautiful, offers an interesting storyline and a few boss fights. Here are a few impressions of the dungeon.
If there’s one thing that impressed me in our guild tour of Everquest 2, it’s the dungeon design. Sure, Everquest 2 offers a wide range of activities, but as a group, we haven’t explored them much. We went for Dungeons, though. We’ve been to Stormhold, Crushbone Keep and Kaladim before we made a detour to the Riverlands to get some heroic progression quests going. Friday, we went for Icespire Summit and Permafrost in Everfrost.
The Icespire Summit is short enough- we cleared it in about 10 to 15 minutes. But it contains at least one enemy worth fighting- a X2 heroic mob (X2 would mean it has originally been designed for 2 groups, but i think this isn’t really accurate anymore), and a trap!
It’s nice, short and somewhat beautiful if you don’t mind the age of the game. There’s not much to explore and, besides the ice-cold beauty of it, there’s not really a reason to visit. We went there because i estimated we wouldn’t be ready for Permafrost with two of us in their very early 40s and me being level 44.
It turned out i was somewhat correct in this, but also incorrect- Permafrost turned out to be tough, but not impossible on the whole. And here, in Permafrost, you can see many reasons for why EQ2 dungeon design is great.
Not all dungeons are instanced in EQ2 and Permafrost isn’t, either. While there is a door and a loading screen, there is the possibility of other groups joining in- and that might be a good thing from time to time, i’ll get to that in a minute.
The estimated time to “complete” Permafrost is one hour. This might be true if you go in with level 50 or something, but if you’re entering it being level 45, you won’t be so quick. And there’ll be obstacles.
In the mid-40s, you won’t be able to fight the dragon. It might be possible to circumvent it- there was a way through the dungeon that put us on his right side, after all, but when we accidentally pulled it, it basically one-shotted us.
And that’s another reason why other groups could be good- not that you’ll ever meet other groups in this level range on the german server- maybe you’re in the mid-40s, but another group is in their mid-50s; maybe you’ll join forces and kill this dragon. Or the other group does and you can get past this room while it hasn’t respawned yet.
Permafrost has 4 levels- they aren’t of the same size and the basement, for instance, doesn’t take long.
It spans a whole level range
While you can repeat dungeons in other MMORPGs just fine, there’s not much of a reason to do so (except if you’re looking for that boss to drop just this weapon). In EQ2, dungeons cover a level range, in the case of Permafrost, there’ll be mobs from level 45 to level 55, so you can go there to level your level 45 character, slowly exploring the dungeon and advancing the character. You’ll see mobs you can’t attack then, but you can of course come back later.
And i have to say- i really want to tackle this dragon. Unfortunately, our trip to EQ2 is almost at an end, so we won’t be able to kill it this time, but maybe we’ll do it later.
We haven’t looked for or accepted any quests not directly related to the dungeons we went to since level 20 or something- with the exception of mount quests and some quests over in the Riverlands, “grinding” mobs in Everquest 2 is a viable route to go in a group- but more than that, i’ve found exploring the dungeons very worthwhile and satisfying- they aren’t linear, in some of them you can get lost, especially since often, there are no maps (in game), you can revisit them and spend a lot of time in them.
Last friday, we finished Crushbone Keep in our guild project. I’ve got to say; working our way through the dungeon, all in all taking 6 or 8 hours to do so, is something i’ve missed. In World of Warcraft, i used to do that sometimes, but it was more like 3 or 4 hours and it was instanced. When you left the dungeon, you had to start in the beginning. Nowadays, most dungeons come in convenient 20-30 minute-packs. I think you could finish Crushbone Keep faster- it took us three or four sessions because we cap at 2 hours and of course, there have been respawns. Crushbone Keep is not an instanced dungeon, though, so you might encounter other players working their way through, as well.
While i didn’t follow the story- i rarely do when in a group- i really liked the atmosphere of this dungeon and i liked how it ends. Also, there’s a dungeon in the dungeon. All in all, with being a subscriber and the recent changes in Alternate Advancement (you’ll get AA points with each levelup, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put the slider above 0% conversion), my character gained 14 levels and is level 38 as of now. Which makes Eshaunia possibly my future main character. I’ve got lots of Station Cash- or Daybreak Coins, or Sunny Stars or whatever they’re called in the future, so if possible, i’ll transfer her over to Antonia Bayle once the guild project is done. My guess is that she’ll be above level 50 by then.
The Ground Floor
Crushbone Keep begins on the Ground Floor, as most buildings do. The ground floor has an orcish feel to it and, well, it’s a Keep, after all.
You’ll start at the room with the “Font of Zek”. There are some quests, one makes you go to each of the towers, but to me, the highlight was the temple. I know, i know, it’s an old game and the graphics aren’t very good, but to be honest, it was so strange to encounter this room and the cult that was in it, that it made an impression.
Also, in some rooms, it’s going to be impossible to pull these orcs in an orderly fashion- the whole room is going to attack, which results in quite a chaotic fight and we had some wipes in those rooms.
Here be Dark Elves. And a torture chamber.
The Basement is kind of short, but has its tough fights, as well. Oh yes, there were Undead, as well. I think level-wise, you should go there last, but it doesn’t really make sense to do so. You’d have to finish the ground floor, go upstairs, clear that and then go downstairs. But if you want to see the Dungeon in the Dungeon, you’d have to go back upstairs- with respawns and all. The D’Vinnian Throne is the highest level part of this whole affair, so you wouldn’t go there when you take the second floor after the ground floor.
Upstairs was…well, i think it was quite easy, because i can’t really remember something that stood out- i think maybe the room with the entrance to the D’Vinnian Throne was somewhat tough, but seeing that i didn’t take any screenshots there, it was either because we were so busy or because it was a breeze.
The entrance to the D’Vinnian Throne is in the Royal Guardpost.
The D’Vinnian Throne
Now that was something. In the D’Vinnian throne, you’ll meet Dark Elves or whatever they are, and the whole thing culminates in confronting Emperor D’Vinn himself, although you don’t get to fight him (yet). There’s no map to be found for this Dungeon, and i found it to be quite confusing in layout, but i’m not very good in orientating myself in virtual indoors. Luckily, one of our group members is the exact opposite and navigated the closed doors and hallways as if he has been there several times. This is a tough place, there were really close fights and group wipes, although i outlevelled the content by 3 or 4 levels by then (but not all Party members did).
Solo with a Mercenary?
I could see that working. My guess is that you should go in when you are level 25/26, clear the ground floor and maybe even go upstairs first. You shouldn’t go into the basement solo before level 30, i think. I guess i’ll try it some time.
All in all, it was a very fun experience. Next up will be getting the leaping mount and Kaladim.
I only played Everquest 2 this week, and i have to say it feels good to do so. I changed my plan, though, and continued questing through the Butcherblock Mountains. My Inquisitor now is level 30 and has a full inventory, so there’ll be some downtime before i get going again. Right now my plan is to finish the quests in my journal and then take a look at a dungeon in the mountains called Kaladim, a dwarven city where something went wrong during the cataclysm. It’s meant for levels 30 to 39, so it might be tough for me and the Merc, but i’ll see about that. It’s also “guarded” by level 35 elite mobs, so getting in will be the first test.
Before going there, i’ll finish up the quests i have accepted and begin the quest for my Leaper, so it’ll be a few levels by the time i venture to Kaladim to see if i can do something in there. With Level 40, Everfrost is calling me- it seems that it’s a beautiful zone, i like snow zones, so i’m eager to take a look- but there’s also some crafting to do to maybe catch up a little. Oh, and housing.
Well, you know, me and other people who complain a lot about MMORPGs getting more and more shallow, small and narrow minded, would do really well giving EQ2 a look- it’s a great game with a very impressive scope of areas to explore and stuff to do, even stuff that’s not about fighting. There are meaningful, epic, quest chains in the game and great experiences all around.
I’m already planning for Alts and tried a level 90 character, but that’s really not for someone who’s quite new to the game.
Also, Carbine came out with their plans for Wildstar– these do look pretty good. Broadening the experience for all kinds of players (even non-hardcore soloers!) seems like a good idea. Their plans are in line with the necessary changes they’ll have to put in place to make the game more successful and interesting for players like me- although i’d have to say it was the combat, mostly, that turned me away. I just couldn’t relax while playing Wildstar. Not that they’ll change that, since the combat is one of the better points of the game and it is fun, but in my case, i’m rarely in the mood for that style of combat. Combine “rarely in the mood” and a subscription, and you’ll know i’m out.
See, and that’s what i missed here- there was no talk about the business model change which should happen, as well. I guess they don’t want to talk about that yet, since they know this is going to be their second- and last- chance to (re-)launch the game and impress their players, so other systems have to be put in place beforehand.
This week in /saved
Normally, i save longer, interesting blog posts for reading later and i wanted to publish a list of the posts i liked the most with some commentary here. I’ll begin today, but i do want to expand on this idea further down the line- and give it more room, probably, because my time for writing here is almost up.
Why Massively’s MJ is a Secret World Fan for life. Somehow i get the impression that it’s somewhat cool in some parts of the blog community to frown upon Massively, its writers and most of all, its commenters, but i like the site. I like their writers and i like reading the comments. When you do that for some time, you’ll know which commenters you like, and of course which authors, columns and opinions are for you. I like MJ a lot, because she streams regularly and is very enthusiastic for the games she plays- she’s a positive character, and that’s quite rare in the community these days. In yesterday’s article she wrote about reasons for loving TSW and the developers of the game, and i have to agree to all of them.
I mentioned Jeromai’s question about what to do before the end in another blog post, but i want to leave it here, again. His musings about what might happen come Guild Wars 2’s expansion are an interesting read, but i really liked his approach to screenshotting the world before the change. I’ll give a short quote with the basics:
Take the -one- defining picture of the area or zone. Or take a picture of the first thing you think of when you hear the zone’s name. (Those may not be the same thing.)
Take 3-5 representative pictures of the zone, covering the major landmarks and scenery.
Do it encyclopedia or wiki-style, a picture for each point of interest or vista or named landmark.
Do a walking tour of the zone to capture pretty much whatever catches your eye.
If you take it step-by-step, from the first bullet point to the last, for every zone, you mapped out a virtual world in a very good way.
I had a few others, but unfortunately, my time’s up- next time, i’ll try and post more links.
Whenever i get into EQ2 after a short or long break, the game grows on me. It’s quite the same with Final Fantasy XIV, for that matter, but it’s somewhat stranger and stronger with Everquest 2. I didn’t play it over the holidays, because my guild project was on a break and i ventured a bit in other worlds and games (7 Days to die, to name one) as well as spending some time in the family. I returned on sunday for the experience bonus, but played monday and yesterday, as well.
My main character, Triupia of Antonia Bayle, is an Inquisitor of level 28 right now, doing busywork for many dwarves in the Butcherblock Mountains. Also, she’s in a guild, as mentioned, and to my pleasure, the guild has been in its usual good mood that evening. While questing i decided to go on an adventure in the close future: get a merc and see the dungeons- or one dungeon at a time, to be precise. I guess it wouldn’t be entirely practical to try and see all dungeons with one character when it’s seemingly impossible to visit all the zones (effectively) with one. I also don’t want to ruin overland zones for me by delving through dungeons all the time, but still- the dungeons in Everquest 2 do have a strong appeal. For one, not all of them are instanced. It doesn’t make a difference, of course, because the beginner dungeons don’t get visited anyway, but still. Also, they span huge level brackets. Crushbone Keep, for instance, spans the levels 20 to 30- and that is only the beginning, because Crushbone Keep is also the entrance to another dungeon, which spans levels 30 to 35.
This is design that appeals to me and my curiosity, i want to explore places- the overland zones, the dungeons, the cities- it’s really great. So that’s probably what i’m going to do in the next few sessions with my main character: seeing some dungeons- or maybe only Crushbone Keep, before going back to overlands.
The other one
The other character, Eshaunia of Valor, a Fury, right now level 28, as well, and spent yesterdays evening slaying a dragon in Antonica and exploring Crushbone Keep with some members of the multigaming-guild i’m part of. So this character spent all her levelling up to this point in a group, and i can already see how Everquest 2 is way more effective when played in a group, as i’ve played her for just about 8 hours after getting the Frostfang mount with level 19. My main has more time /played, but solo, so even though i’ve been using experience bonus weekends with playing her, i still spent way more time with Triupia than with Eshaunia.
We didn’t “clear” Crushbone Keep, whatever that means, so in a week, we’ll be returning there to maybe finish it and at least get a glimpse of the entrance to The D’Vinnian Throne. I saw enough of this dungeon, though, to see that it will not be easy to finish alone with a Merc, although these Mercenaries are really powerful.
Meanwhile, Jeromai of Whyigame posed an interesting question- “What would you do, before the last day“- and answers it by taking a lot of screenshots in some kind of photography project- he even has a plan that looks promising and engaging. While i haven’t gone down the same road, yet, i really liked the idea and vowed to take more screenshots of the games i play and/or maybe even copy his plan and work something out for me, as well.
After all, while his post is in relation to Guild Wars 2 and a possible expansion/another “pre-searing”-event, our worlds- as in MMORPG worlds, are all bound to change or shut down forever. So really, this is a good idea that’s worth pursuing. The downside is, i kind of want to do that with Lotro’s middle earth.